By Vanzetta Evans
There’s a new manager for theGwinnett Braves, but he is a familiar face to both the Braves organization and Gwinnett County.
Brian Snitker put on his G-Braves jersey and baseball cap for the first time Thursday afternoon at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. Snitker, a Lilburn resident, has been with the Atlanta Braves organization for 38 years. Today, he officially took the helm of their AAA minor league team.
For the past seven years, Snitker has served as the third base coach for the Atlanta Braves. He is eager to not only to win games, but also to prepare players for the next level.
“Hopefully, what I can do is impart the experience and knowledge I gained over the last few years and help these guys get to the Atlanta Braves because that’s what it’s all about,” Said Snitker.
He also has previous experience leading a minor league team. In 2006, Snitker was the manager for the Richmond Braves, the predecessor of the Gwinnett team. But he says he has grown since then while working under future Hall of Famer Bobby Coxand current Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
“I got to work with two of the better managers in baseball,” said Snitker of Cox and Gonzalez. “Watching how they handled it will help me be better.”
While often times managers have to travel and be away from their families during the season, Snitker feels grateful he will be working just about 15 miles from his home in Lilburn. His sonTroy, who was drafted by the Braves in 2011, played baseball at Brookwood High School with the Braves’ top prospect, Lucas Sims.
Sims, a Lawrenceville native, is good friends with Snitker’s son and spent plenty of time at the new G-Braves’ manager’s home.
“When I come hang out with Troy, I hang out with Snit too,” said the 19 year old pitcher casually.
Sims was named the Atlanta Braves’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year during his season in Rome. Although all eyes may be on the young pitcher, Sims is keeping his cool.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said Sims. “I’m just going to play hard.”
Both the minor and major leaguers will report to spring training in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. next month. The G-Braves open the season on the road Thursday, April 3 against the Durham Bulls. Their first home game at Coolray Field is Friday, April 11.